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Situational Baseball Handicapping

When we handicap football we’re always looking for that edge that’s outside of the box, such as look-ahead spots and coast-to-coast travel, as well as even revenge angles. And yet, many people overlook those things in baseball, choosing to focus on the numbers. If that works for you, then don’t change a thing.

However, here are some situational handicapping techniques to consider going forward, especially if you’re looking to add to your repertoire. One of my favorites is the “first game home” angle. Teams that have been on the road for any length of time tend to struggle in their first home game coming back. That would be especially true with no days off, and clearly even better if it involves long flights.

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Let’s remember that the players are human, too, and many of them have families (kids) that haven’t seen them for a week or more. So, they fly home late and have to be at the park the next afternoon, all the while dealing with the same issues you and I would in that situation. It’s called life.

Another one of my favorites is home teams that are about to get swept. Conventional thinking has most people assuming that the home team won’t lose the entire series, but sweeping a series is far from uncommon. Plus, because most novice bettors will indeed bet on the home team in that spot, there is often value in taking the road team.

What’s also proven to make me money is the bounce-back situation. I don’t mean the team rebounding from a loss, but a starting pitcher. It’s all about adjustments, and more often than not the pitchers make them more frequently than the hitters. If a particular pitcher was hit hard against a team, the next outing people tend to assume that will happen again. In practical application, the reverse is quite often true.

Let’s look at double-headers for a minute, especially when they are the last game(s) of a series. Whether a team won or lost one or both isn’t important, but what is of relevance is fatigue. Assuming that the bullpens were used to any extent, the teams will be at a disadvantage the following day.

Now, I would grant you that we shouldn’t automatically bet on or against these angles, but they are something that should factor in. To expound, I would not blindly bet against the team playing after a double-header, but what it would do is preclude me from taking them. The same can be said about the “first game back” in that I would auto-fade a team, but it would more than likely stop me from taking them.

Remember, winning takes avoiding mistakes just as much (if not more) than finding winners.

Dave Essler is a handicapper from Pregame, featured on ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN & more.

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